Your Dreams are What Matter! 


I have to admit, as shallow as it sounds, I was desperate to have a little girl. It was just something I’d always imagined for my own life, something I’d definitely hoped for. 

7 year old me would brag on the school yard that some day I was going to have two children. A boy first, of course…and a girl second, so that her older Brother could look out for her. Coming from a family where I had experienced the love and support of having an older Brother, I knew I wanted exactly that for my future. My childhood had been perfect, so much so that I wanted to mirror it for my own children.


The day I discovered I was pregnant, I instinctively knew I was expecting a Boy. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind! As the sonographer revealed the gender, I cheered so proudly to have been right. I had my perfect son – my perfect start to our family. 

Having a son was so important to me, I wanted a boy because I knew how loving they could be, how proud I could feel about raising a man but most importantly, I knew how special older Brothers could be. I already felt so lucky to have one amazing child but my plan was always that my Son would be an older Brother.

When we discovered we were expecting again, my heart ached for you. I know how this sounds and yes – I would have loved a second Son just as much. A healthy child – no matter the gender -would have made me so incredibly happy. But, my life’s plan was always to have you!

Our 20 week scan was on a Tuesday. Your Father had left work early and the three of us headed to the Hospital.  I recall sitting in the waiting room almost pained with eagerness to see you on screen. Obviously, our priority was to know that you were healthy and growing as you should have been. Yet, I just still couldn’t wait to know your sex.


Although too young to comprehend what he was seeing, Tristan looked at you on the screen with so much awe. He marvelled at the flickering image wriggling around contently and he cheered at the noise of your heartbeat. The sonographer told him he was getting a little Sister; I cried and cried with happiness. 

My perfect family was complete! 

Finding out I was getting my girl was such an incredible moment. From being 7, I had high expectations for your future. I had in mind exactly how I wanted you to be.

Without question, you’d have blonde hair and blue eyes. You’d be quirky and individual, confident and assured…undeniably beautiful. I envisaged you’d be good at sport, always energetic and full of desire to achieve. 


In my mind, you’d be a ballerina. A perfectly poised, enigmatic ballerina. At 7 years old, I saw you dancing on stage – people looking at you in absolute admiration. Radiantingly elegant, you’d hypnotise your audience with irrefutable skill. 

I’m going to be honest here, my vision of what I expected from you is almost cruel and unkind. I had expectations of you that even I was incapable of. Expectations of you that most women never accomplish.

Your early arrival in this world taught me some well needed perspective. In the moments where you nearly died, I grieved solely for my little girl, my Daughter. As I watched the Doctors relentlessly trying to stabilise you, I had time to ingest what I was at risk of losing. Hair colour, eye colour, academic or physical ability did not once enter. Instead, I saw only the love I could be denied. 

In the days that followed your birth, I swore never to burden you with unreasonable ideology. Just to have you breathing, just to have you living would always be enough! 

At 17 months old, you were eventually diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Part of your diagnosis meant accepting the fact that there may be things you’ll never manage to do, physical ailments you’ll harbour all your life. I’m struggling the most with this. 

You see, to me, there’s nothing you can’t achieve!


I once ignorantly worried that my 7 year old vision for your future had been crushed. That I’d never get the chance of fulfilling my dreams for you. I want you to know that I’m aware of how pathetic I have been. My 7 year old dreams for your future were always going to be completely inconsequential.

Something I learnt very quickly about you is your strength of mind. From 9 weeks before you were due to be born, you had your own style of doing things, your own wants and desires. These are what matter the most! 

At almost two, you’re the cutest most quirkiest Doll I’ve ever known. You’re passionate about living, approach everything with a ‘I can’ attitude. It’s this attitude which leaves people spellbound. You’re not even two and already so many have marvelled at your strength, are astonished by your decisive and domineering demeanour. 


Your passion for 80’s disco hits is entertaining and bewildering but you don’t care! You dance your beautiful heart out in whichever way you please. You care only about the pleasure you acquire and not at all about how you are perceived. This is something I hope desperately we can retain. 

Recently, I took you to a ballet class. I must admit, although trying to look calm on the outside, inside I was bubbling with anxiety. I worried that other Mothers would think I was cruel, as though I was forcing you to be something you may never be…may never want to be! I worried that others may think I was delusional, expecting you suddenly to grasp physical demands you’re quite obviously incapable of doing. Mostly, I worried that you’d hate me for pressurising you with those unrealistic dreams I once promised I wouldn’t. 

Of course, you proved me wrong. 

You attempted every dance, giggled with magnificent joy as your legs bounded around the room. You waved your arms side to side and danced with so much pleasure that my heart felt blessed to watch you. 

Every day, you make me realise that there’s literally nothing you can’t do! I’ve no doubt in my mind that you’ll conquer every challenge you decide to take on – whether that be ballet dancing or not. 


But for the moment, you just love to dance. So, go ahead my Unlikely Ballerina and enchant the world.

Lots of love, your biggest fan xx

You Gave Me Purpose


    Purpose. It’s funny to think but the power of purpose is often forgotten about. In our hectic days and manic lives, purpose can become lost or confused, hidden or overshadowed. Yet the power of purpose is phenomenal.
    Purpose drives us forward, pushes us to achieve. 
    Without purpose there’s simply no point. It’s the catalyst for our actions, the sole reason for why we do.

    For so long, I searched for purpose. I lived, I breathed, I existed. But nothing felt worthwhile, nothing felt meaningful. 
A life without purpose just isn’t fulfilling. You can carry out routine procedures but the joy behind it just isn’t felt. It’s sad, when you think about it, to consider that some people never recognise purpose. It’s sad to think that purpose can be so easily masked or mistaken. 

    I had no idea myself just how powerful purpose could be…until there were you!
When you entered my life, you revealed my purpose. I know that this sounds cheesy but I need you to know this. I need you to always remember that my purpose was you! 

    Having children is certainly life altering. There’s times everyday where I still feel so intensely overwhelmed by Motherhood, so intensely submerged. I’d love to say that this was always positive but it’s not. There’s times everyday where I need to say ‘I didn’t enjoy that’ and not be judged. I mean, who really wants to argue with a two year old in public? Who wants to feel undermined by a toddler, with little beady judgey eyes on show? Who wants to feel embarrassed and worthless? Throughout these trying moments, please never forget that I still find reassurance in my purpose.


    Throughout all the mania, there’s something so magical about it all! Something that makes it so outrageously worthy.

    Before your Brother arrived, my body had meant nothing. I’d overworked it, abused it. In an attempt to find purpose, I’d put it under immense duress to stay slim and slender. Your Brother taught me that being ‘skinny’ wasn’t my purpose. As my hips cracked to make way for his arrival, I accepted the full extent of my body’s purpose and worth. The purpose of my body was not to be viewed as beautiful, beauty lay in the roundness of my childbearing belly. The purpose of my body was to protect both you and your Brother – through childbirth and forever after. Your Brother taught me to love my body, to appreciate every curve. 

    Suddenly, I had purpose.


    I had purpose to live, to breathe, to take care of myself the best I could. The change in me began, I felt it from within. Unlike before, the most measly of tasks could supply pleasure. That feeing of pleasure made everything so worthwhile…late nights, early mornings, lack of sleep…all of it had purpose!

    When you arrived, it’s fair to say that I already had purpose but nothing could prepare me for how much more purposeful my life would become. 

    The day you nearly died, I realised my purpose was to make you stronger. Your strength was already admirable but I needed to teach you to WANT to survive. I knew that I needed to teach you to see how magnificent living could be. I needed to teach you that living would be worthwhile! I knew that this could only be accomplished by showing you all the wonders of life, to show you how to be a glass-half-full kind of person. I knew that my only way of succeeding in this would be to change my own mentality (this harder than I’d like to admit, I’ve too many people in my life who ridicule this outlook on living, too many people who’d rather focus on the negatives). 


    Suddenly, I had purpose to change.

     Then, the day we discovered you had cerebral palsy, I realised my purpose was also to champion you. Your determination was just as admirable as your strength but I knew that I needed to make you feel the extent of your worth. I realised immediately that I just couldn’t ever allow you to feel self conscious or doubt. The only way I’d succeed in doing this is to show you how to love yourself, that this also meant me having to love myself too (again, this is harder than I first imagined. For too long, I’ve listened to the listing of my flaws, the reasons as to why I shouldn’t). 


    Suddenly, I had purpose to accept myself for who I am.

     The day I heard that you may never walk, I realised that my purpose was to support you – both physically and mentally. If your own body won’t supply you the means to show you the world, then mine will. The purpose of my arms is to carry you wherever your heart desires. The purpose of my legs is to walk you wherever your feet want to travel. The purpose of my heart is to love you enough that you won’t feel hurt by the rejection of others. 

   Between you and your Brother, my life will never be short of purpose. Purpose to love you, protect you, guide you and direct you. Having purpose has given me more confidence and strength than I’ve ever felt before. There’s something so gratifying about knowing the importance of your existence. Never before have I felt so comfortable in myself, known what I deserve and what I don’t. 


   So, through all the hard times, the tears and the tests – I need you to know that I’m so grateful for my purpose. 

    Thank you for giving me purpose, thank you for making me a Mother, thank you for giving me the gift of watching you grow.

Love you – Mama 💕

I’m Raising a King


There was a time in History when men were chivalric and bold, romantic and loving. To win the heart of the fair lady they adored, they’d shower her with affection, smoulder her with emotion.
Somewhere along the timeline, things changed. It was no longer popular for men to bear their heart and soul. Men became afraid to demonstrate vulnerability and I suppose, Women stopped wanting them to.
When I was younger, I thought most men were typical ‘blokes’. Beer guzzling, football crazed, deep-voiced and unemotional species who cared more about Deadline Day than their Wedding Day. Of course, society told me that this was expected. Hell, society told boys too that this should be the way they acted. I’m not judging it (I’m really rather fond of the ‘bloke’ style) but now that I have you, I wonder if there’s some other way.
I’ve been the girl dating the ‘bloke’ (I am the woman married to the stereotype!) and although I still consider my Marriage to be perfectly healthy, I don’t want this for your wife. You’re better than this, you’ve far more to give.


At the moment, you’re two – two and incredibly tactile. From the moment you awake, to the moment you fall asleep – you crave love and affection. Between wild dinosaur adventures or high speed car chases, your arms are firmly stitched around my neck, your legs are perfectly curved around my waist. You’re not ‘needy’ for the attention, you don’t rely on it for comfort (actually, as far as I’m concerned, you’re magnificently independent). You do it because you’ve no shame in showing your emotions!


And I couldn’t be any more proud of that!
Your desire to display affection makes me beam and rejoice. I don’t yet need to show you how to be a perfect partner, a caring and empathetic man. You’re showing me that it’s built within your nature. My only worry is, how do I nurture this instinct and not let society strip it away? How do I encourage you to stay tactile and loving when society now tells me there’s an age limit on how long I can acceptably kiss you on the lips? The thought of which leaves me feeling mournful for the precious moments I’ll surely lose.


In your beautiful ways, you love to shower me with kisses. Recently, we seem to have a little system – you kiss my nose, my forehead, each eyelid then my lips. Each time, my heart bursts and I could cry with sheer love and joy for you. You tell me I’m beautiful, that I’m gorgeous and you love me. You won’t part unless you’ve kissed me good-bye, can’t sleep unless you’ve given your good-night kisses. These things, I hope never leave you in your lifetime. I want to know you’ll tell your wife you love her at every end of a phone call, won’t leave without making sure she feels the extent of your love. I want to know you won’t sleep on an argument, will kiss both your wife and your children to sleep each night.
Nothing would make me prouder!


Your tactile nature extends further than my direction. You’re loving with all the family, especially your sister. Although sibling rivalry will always be preset, there’s times when you’re so loving and caring that I can’t believe how lucky she is. You cuddle her in, snuggle up to her always. You comfort her when she cries, wipe the tears from her lids, stroke her hair when she’s upset and even sing to her. You’re always looking out for her, making sure she’s equal to you in every way, making sure she’s never treated unjustly. She already admires you and I completely know why! You’re not only her ally, you’re her biggest supporter and I know you’ll make sure she feels special – even when others judge her or make her feel weak. You don’t see a disability, you see someone that you love and I love you for that all the more!
You’re incredibly nurturing. Today, you’ve cared for me so gently. I’ve been feeling ill – you’ve stroked my head, rubbed my delicate tummy (you even rubbed sudocrem over my brow to ‘make me better’. I’m not entirely sure how warranted this was but it was incredibly touching). I saw how you put effort into fixing my ‘ouchies’. It made me proud just to know how you’ll always try your best to make the ones you love feel better.
Your affectionate ways already make you stand out amongst the crowd. On days out, you pick flowers for the girls, wrap your arms around the boys and show them you care for them. I can see already that your friends will feel appreciated, will never feel ashamed to tell you how badly they’re feeling. You’ll have a way of showing them that it’s okay to talk about emotions – even if they are men…or boys. In turn, I know you’ll never suffer in silence because you’ll always be brave enough to express what’s on your mind or in your heart. This reassures me that you’ll never feel lonely and your partner will never feel alone as well.


For a two-year-old, you have it totally right! I just hope I manage to make sure you always have the confidence to proudly be the sweet, strong, admirable person you already are. I hope you have the confidence to stand up to society’s pre-judged ideology of what a ‘man’ truly is.
At the moment, you’re every bit my prince but what makes me happiest is knowing, I’m raising a King!

You’ve Got This


     I’ve not always been noted for my positive outlook. I’m one of those highly strung people who never seem to balance their emotions (surprising considering I’m a Libra and meant to be wholly balanced). I’m either high or low, happy or sad, excited or miserable. My reaction to situations or circumstances is undeniably unpredictable – and by that – I mean that I can’t even predict which way I’ll handle somethings. 
     Since you were born, I’m definitely making progress here. 
     Before you, I could easily wallow when things didn’t go my way. I could sulk endlessly in a way which would make me quite unbearable to be around. I’d always focus on the negatives in any predicament. In my mind, it was my way of protecting myself. I deludedly thought that if I prepared for the worst, I wouldn’t feel as bad when it actually happened.
      Spontaneously (9 weeks early) you entered this world and immediately taught me that preparing for the worst could sometimes be unthinkable; that preparing for the worst could sometimes be unimaginable. 

     There was never a moment I allowed myself to believe that we’d lose you – even as we waited seven hours for the Doctors to stabilise your condition. Even as we followed the blue-lighted ambulance 30 miles South knowing there was every really possibility you wouldn’t be strong enough to survive the journey.
     Following your pneumothorax , the Doctors found themselves in unnerving territory – If they transferred you without being stabilised, you could die but if you stayed at Durham, you surely would.
     As they prepared us for this chance, I heard the words swish around in my mind but I couldn’t digest them. You seemed too super to die, too determined to give up. 
     At 23 hours old, you made me view the world differently.

     I was no longer looking out at the world from the shoulders of a Mother full of vulnerability and emotion. I was looking at it with more strength, composure and self-assurance than I’d ever felt before. I knew instinctively that in your moment of need, I would never let you down. I felt it in my heart that my own strength and conviction was needed to carry you forward. I knew instinctively that I’d always believe in your ability, never doubt your capabilities.
     Nearly two years later and I can’t thank you enough for the strength and positivity that you’ve taught me. 

     Your prematurity made barriers for you we’d never imagined. You’ve had so many obstacles to overcome. So many more fights to conquer than other children your age. Since your diagnosis with Cerebral Palsy, were realised just how many challenges you’ve actually had. Many of which you must have suffered silently for so long but your attitude towards overcoming every barrier is truly amazing.
     You’ve a zestiness that is utterly captivating and instantly contagious. Your passion to succeed is completely admirable. The way you handle your disability makes me feel so incredibly proud of you. Every doubt you’ve heard us utter has played on your mind, willed you to prove us wrong. 

     There hasn’t been one challenge thrown your way that you haven’t tackled with ease. Your blasé attitude and confident approach to overcoming your ailments has, on many occasions, given me insight and perspective. There have been many times I’ve worried about your condition. There have been many times I’ve wanted to cry inconsolably for fear of what your future may hold. There have been many times where I’ve wanted to focus on the negatives and prepare myself for the worst.
     But every time I do, you show me that there really is no need to.
     Today, you met another milestone, one I’d once thought I’d never see you do. You pulled yourself up into a sitting position! For so long, I waited for you to sit unaided. It wasn’t until you were 18 months that you eventually learnt to hold your own. This accomplishment felt massive and although I beamed with pride, a little part of me still focused on the fact that your sitting wasn’t natural. You could only hold your stance if you’d been positioned, the notion of sitting on your own hadn’t registered in your mind. Having cerebral palsy, I knew that this would always be your biggest barrier.

     Your brain doesn’t communicate to your limbs the way that it should. It doesn’t send signals intuitively. We’ve been told to prepare ourselves that it may never learn to send those messages. We’ve been told to prepare ourselves that you may never walk. Although I hear this warning, I can’t allow myself to believe it. Your progress today proves that you won’t be defeated.
     I see you progress so rapidly recently that I feel more and more excited for your future. There’s no goal unreachable to you, no target you won’t strive to achieve. That tenacious attitude of yours inspires me to be more like you. You don’t see the negatives, you don’t focus on failing – and that is what I love about you! 
     Thank you for showing me a different way to be, a more positive, more constructive, more enthusiastic way to be.
     You make me hopeful and incredibly proud – I’m more grateful for the strength you’ve show me and the way you guide me to being a better person.
      You’re my fighter, my Warrior Princess, my Dolly – my daughter! And you’re completely amazing. 

     You’ve got this!

Motherhood Made Me


Before I fell pregnant, I thought it was something that would only ever happen to ‘other’ people. I’d notice the grand gestured announcements on Facebook and feel as though it was never going to be my turn.
In truth, I have to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know whether I ever wanted it to be. A part of me would feel pathetically sad each month when my period arrived and yet, another part of me would rejoice and think ‘thank god, I can continue as I am’. I was a mixture of desperate to fall pregnant and desperate to remain the same.

I’d been in no rush until my periods started having a mind of their own. I’d go two weeks over my cycle and the wonder would start to kick in. ‘I must be pregnant’ I’d think. Then the show would come and I’d be left questioning why my periods were so out of tune.

 

After several blood tests, it was confirmed that my body wasn’t producing the right amount of hormones. Some months, my fertility was suddenly jeopardised and my ability to join Motherhood was threatened. Having the choice of whether I wanted children, had allowed me to take it for granted but the moment I was told I may not be able to, I instinctively knew I HAD to become a Mother.

 

In a bid to drown out my sorrow, I made myself as busy as possible. I distanced myself from my Husband so I didn’t have to admit that I might be a bigger failure than he even realised; so I didn’t have to admit that I wanted children more than we’d really discussed.

The issues surrounding my periods had almost tricked me too many times into believing this was the time I was pregnant. I started taking contraception again as a means of feeling as though I had some control over what was happening. Through packet breaks, I’d wait anxiously to see if my period arrived.

Mostly, it didn’t.

 
I was 9 weeks into the first trimester when I first realised I was pregnant. My Gran had warned me that I would know intuitively when I fell…I didn’t have a clue!

Days before I took the test, I’d ventured up coast with some of my closest friends. We’d joked over how I’d gained weight despite dieting strictly and upping my gym routine. Worryingly, it wasn’t just my stomach that was showing – I could no longer get a pair of knickers to fit comfortably (I later learnt that this was due to my pelvis widening to give way for childbirth). I’d made us stop a million times to pee and felt bizarrely nauseous every time I sipped soda water.

 
But it wasn’t until I nearly passed out at my Auntie’s funeral that I realised something was a miss.

 
I’d began to resent purchasing pregnancy tests – the singular pink line was just an insult to me and my failing body. This time, I felt blasé about it all. Suspecting the result would reinforce my inability to conceive, I headed off into a local supermarket toilet. I mean, why get sentimental about it all? The test was most likely going to end up in the sanitary bin along with my pride and hope.

 
Also, I was incredibly hungover and just wanted the whole scenario to be over as soon as possible.
What can I say? I froze with fear when the second pink line manifested right in front of my eyes. Instantly, I vomited (which could have been the effects of the shock or the hangover).

 
I felt sick because I knew I hadn’t been looking after myself like a pregnant woman should. I’d drank far too much, restricted my calorie intake and overworked my body in hope of shifting those piling pounds before my holiday (which was only two days away).

 
I felt sick because my ideal moment had taken place in a skanky cubicle toilet with no-one close to share in my joy and fear.

 
I felt sick because the surge of maternal instinct was powerful and intense. I could not lose my child, ever. The need to protect was overwhelming and immense.
That doubt over whether I’d ever wanted children vanished instantaneously. I’d never wanted anything more in all my life!

Becoming a Mother made me. It wasn’t until my Son arrived that I realised, I was lost beforehand. I’d struggled with who I was, with what I wanted out of life, with what I’d tolerate.


Motherhood made life clear. I wanted love and affection but not from those who didn’t deserve it. I wanted for me what I wanted for my children. I wanted happiness, fulfilment, joy and laughter.

I wanted meaning!

 
Motherhood made me value my worth. It suddenly became obvious to me how I needed to be treated…by others but mostly by myself. I found myself admiring my body and appreciating it in ways I’d never been able to before. My swollen postpartum stomach was worn with pride. My newly carved (and much wider) hips were beautiful and miraculous. I understood that if I put myself down, I’d only encourage my children to view their own flaws as negative or unattractive. I couldn’t entertain the thought that my own behaviour could be responsible for inflicting their own self-loathing in the future. Instead, I knew that I must instil confidence in them through displaying my own confidence outwardly.
I realised that I only needed the love of myself and my children. Anything above this was and is a bonus.

From the moment that second pink line appeared, I had changed. Changed in ways which made me whole and better.

 
Being a Mother has made me more patient, more tolerable, more kind and empathetic. It’s made me more confident, more assured, more certain and assertive.
It’s shown me how to be the best possible version of me and for that, I’ll always be grateful.
Grateful for the two amazing gifts I was granted.

I Hurt because I Don’t Know How to Fix Things


Ever since you arrived, I’ve had conflicting emotions between you and your Brother. I’m desperate to preserve his childhood, I watch him grow so swiftly that I want to pin him down and clutch on to his baby demeanour for as long as I physically can.
You, on the other hand, I’ve pressurised to grow.
Knowing you’ll be my last child, a part of me has passionately savoured the lengthy wait between each development. You’ve been my baby forever and I need you to know how much I’ve appreciated that. But still, I will you to grow.
The hardest part of your disability for me is the ‘not knowing’. We knew from birth that your brain bleed would leave permanent damage – it wasn’t until you turned 17 months that we learnt the extent of the trauma. 17 months of anxiety and doubt. I thought that once we had confirmation of the cause of your slow progress, I’d magnificently feel better but now knowing you have cerebral palsy leaves us with a new extent of uncertainty. 


There’s every real chance that we’ll never see you walk unaided, never watch you dance your 1st dance at your wedding, your Father may never be able to walk you down the aisle. This kills me! Especially because we’ll never know you won’t do this until you don’t. 
There’s a million moments each day which take me by surprise – I can look out the window at our neighbouring children chasing butterflies, with that wild tenacity young children have, and feel paralysed with dread that I may never be watching you join them. I can load up social media and see videos of children much younger than you climb slides or take their first step and feel sick to the pit of my gut that I may never share those moments for you. After all, it’s not for me that I want these opportunities – it’s very much for you.


You’re growing more mature now, you’ve started to realise you can’t join in. I see the frustration in your eyes, feel your heart ache with every glistening tear which rolls down your cheek. I spot the desperation in your mind to fit in, I watch you idolise other children, admiring their movements and itchy to copy. It’s that same will and desire which makes me feel more at ease.
You’re too determined to give in. You’re too strong to not conquer your hardships. 
More than ever, I’ve seen you transform recently. Our latest holiday was almost a catalyst for your growth – you decided to join the world of toddlerhood. Each night, the music would begin and your legs would spontaneously thrash out shapes, not too dissimilar to dance moves. Your arms would join in and your smile would radiate the space around you. Your laughter was infectious, captivating. You squealed until we took you to the dance floor, broke down if we tried to remove you from the fun. 


It was both mesmerising and incredibly hard in equal measures. Mesmerising because I’ve wished you to grow for so long that I almost couldn’t believe I was watching you do it! Hard because you harboured so much frustration and resentment at the lack of your own ability. Each night began with your untamed laughter but ended with your violent cries. 
This is why I will you to grow. 
As your Mother, I’ll always want you to succeed in everything your heart desires. I can’t handle listening to you scream because you want to run with your Brother. I can’t handle trying to settle you because you want to dance independently. Each head-but, each bite is confirmation as to how much you’re hurting. You thrash outwardly to make us identify with your pain. The thing is Dolly, I already feel it just as strongly as you do.
I hurt so much. I hurt because I don’t know how to fix things, don’t know how to get you to where you want to be.


All I can do is cuddle you, let you air your frustration and encourage you to succeed…even if this means picking you up after every single fail.
I’m proud to see you toddle, so grateful for the progress I see you make. You’re no longer my baby and I promise I won’t treat you as one, I won’t hold you back in ways that may be harmful to your development.
Together, we’ll do this. Together, we’ll make sure you have your moments…but if, somehow, we can’t – please remember that I’ll never ever give up on you. I’ve said before that I’ll carry you forever. If there ever comes a time I can’t carry you any longer, I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you still succeed in everything your heart desires. I’ll push you, I’ll guide you, I’ll always support you.

I’ll Carry Her Forever


For as long as I’ve been a Mother, I’ve been completely honest about the guilt I’ve harboured. It’s taken shape in many a form, sought me out at some point every day.
Guilt has consumed me.

Two and a half years into my parental journey, I thought I’d learnt to tame it. Then…our world changed and I was thrust into a new, more intense and unreasonable state of guilt.

Siena was born prematurely at 31 weeks; it was her birth which triggered the most uncontrollable guilt I’d ever accosted. In the past nineteen months, I’ve encountered guilt about every aspect of her premature arrival. I’ve blamed myself continuously for her impatient entrance, convinced myself that ultimately I must have been to blame.


For a long time, I couldn’t imagine ever feeling at ease with the situation. Guilt had become a part of me – a constant reminder of my unforgivable failure as a Mother. It felt as though I’d never escape the reality of having a baby born too soon. The first year of her life was cluttered with hospital visits, stays and check-ups. It seemed that there was never very long between each date but we remained hopeful that life would eventually normalise.

When Siena was nine months old, I started to worry about her lack of physical development. Mentally, she’d shone. She’d showed signs of intelligence and astuteness but physically, she was weak. I felt guilty that it had taken me so long to spot the signs. I’d been happy to blame her slow development on laziness, always thinking ‘she’ll get there in her own time’.

Time passed and Siena remained unchanged. Deep down, I longed to live in the warmth of denial. I wasn’t ready to admit that there was something potentially very wrong.

Two days ago, she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. I sat at her Paediatrician’s desk analysing the results of her brain scan. The damage to her brain was obvious. It highlighted the scan, unashamed and brash. There was no escaping the prognosis.


I’m not entirely sure I can even articulate the surge of emotions that consumed me as I peered at the white lines surrounding her brain matter. I’d known it was suspected but hearing it confirmed, paralysed me. For months, I’d fought away thoughts of ‘what if’, barricaded myself from the possibility. It seemed silly to worry myself over something that might never have been.

But there’s no longer a façade for me to hide behind.

Somewhere throughout her life, the unbearable guilt I’d once experienced had subsided. As Siena met other milestones, we’d cheered and admired her undeniable strength. Watching her transform from the tiny baby she once was to the fierce toddler before us, had, undoubtedly eased the onus I’d concealed beneath my armour. I hadn’t prepared myself for the possibility of its sharp and undignified return.

Here I am, almost twenty months after her birth, feeling guiltier than I ever have. What hurts more is accepting that this guilt will never go away.

At current, I can’t discard the feeling that this is my fault. My body should have been stronger. I should have waited longer between having children. My diet could have been healthier; I should never have forgotten to take folic acid tablets some nights. The iron my body couldn’t absorb, I should have increased it through nutritional rich foods. I shouldn’t have carried heavy objects, should have rested more and for longer. There’s a million ways I could have triggered Siena’s birth – a million regrets I have to live with each day.


If Siena can’t walk, I’ll feel guilty for inflicting disability upon her. If my own body hadn’t failed, her body wouldn’t have either (not that I see disability as a failure…I’m desperate to make sure I protect her from such views).

When she returns home from school crying that she’s been teased for being different, the guilt will kill me inside. I want her to have the confidence to understand that her condition doesn’t make her different. I want her to have the tenacity to educate those around her whose ignorance could hurt.

If Siena comes to me bearing heartbreak that the boy she fancies won’t return her feelings, my heart will shatter. I want her to see the beauty I see, to have the self-assurance and worth not to chase those who don’t deserve her heart.

I once said that I was desperate to chase fairies with her, I feel guilty that I no longer believe this might even be possible. I want to be positive for her, stronger than I’ve ever been but I also need to accept that the stark reality of her future may not allow this. Like every Mother, I had dreams and ambitions for her -I had a preconceived vision of how her life would pan out. Right now, I no longer know what to dream. I don’t want to set unrealistic aspirations which may pressurise her but I don’t want to sound like I’m giving up on her either. I’ll never give up on her!


I’m frantic for her to know that I’ll never let her fail. I have to believe that she’ll be capable of achieving whatever she sets her heart upon. I’ll be there beside her to push her and guide her as much as I can. I won’t let her feel vulnerable by her condition; I won’t let her wallow in unnecessary self-pity.

I’ll carry her burdens so that she doesn’t have to. I’ll carry her worries and anxieties so that she can be free from doubt. I’ll carry her troubles to ease the weight on her shoulders and if she can’t walk, I’ll carry her through life – wherever she desires.


Cerebral Palsy will not define her, shape her, mould her or restrict her…it may be an additional challenge but we’ll conquer it together. Of that, I’m sure.


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A Mother’s Guide to a Good Bribe

“I’ll let you watch Finding Nemo for the 3rd time today if you eat your tea”

Bribery – a bargaining tool, a godsend or a self-inflicting torture device. No matter what age your child is, undoubtedly at some point, bribery will be your only gameplan.
Over the past two years, bribery has featured heavily in my mothering techniques. At times, I’ve immediately regretted this decision. At others, I’ve been incredibly grateful for such winning little tricks.

As awesome as a bribe may be, there’s a definite dark side. A bribe can be a gamble – it’ll either pay off dividends or cause you so much more hassle in the long run.

With that in mind, here’s five tips to the good bribe.

1) Be Consistent

With most toddlers, consistency is paramount…when it comes to discipline, rewards and bribery! Your toddler will suss out pretty quickly whether it’s worth taking the bait. If he or she feels as though your bribes are flakey, they’ll be less likely to see the advantage of taking it. Never offer a bribe which you have no intention of honouring. Remember the boy who cried wolf? Well, when the wolf arrived no-one took him seriously and this is exactly what will happen. The one time you need your child to accept a bribe, they’ll be thinking ‘yeah right, you said that last time and I’m still waiting for a month’s supply of Milky Bar’. 

Not my finest bribe “Finish your tea and I’ll let you have a chocolate pot”

This brings me nicely to my next point.

2). Don’t make unrealistic bribes

A bribe is a delicious little gift to help you through your day with more ease…or silence. It’s main purpose is to aid you not hinder you. If you offer unrealistic bribes, you may be at risk of making more work for yourself. For instance, don’t offer a bribe which will cost you money, time or patience. Be resourceful! If you suggest to your child that you’ll take them to the park for a run around, this could be a lovely concept but have you time today to fulfil this? Were you intending on taking them already or did you have other plans that you’ll now need to change? If so, you haven’t won…you’ve definitely lost the battle however sweet the victory felt when the bait was bitten. 

“We’ll take you to Beamish if you put your shoes on real quick” score – we were going anyway
 
3). Choose your bribes wisely

A packet of crisps may not be part of a stable diet but without doubt, they are adored by toddlers all over the world. Personally, I’d rather offer crisps as a bribe over chocolate or cake. In saying that, some crisps are not worth the bother. Take a Cheesy Wotsit, the golden puffs of wheat can be a delicious treat but the residue they leave behind will stain everything in their path. A pombear will fulfil the brief without half the mess. Fruit can be an even better offering (especially if you’re luckier to have one of those delightful souls who enjoy it) but once again, choose fruits which are self efficient and easy to prepare. 

The banana – little mess, cheap and full of goodness

4). Time your bribes 

Picture this, it’s a Saturday morning. You’ve been up since 5 am and just want five minutes peace and quiet. It feels like the ideal time to thrash out the promise of a Disney film. You’ll be able to recuperate and even enjoy a warm cup of tea…but are you desperate? Dropping the bribe too soon could be detrimental in the  long run. Wait until you’re completely flagging, that way, it will feel ever more sweet. Mainly, my bribes are timed with deadlines ‘if you get in your car seat, I’ll put the nursery rhymes on for you’ is one I use religiously when in a rush to get out of the house. Bribes have saved my not-so-little behind on several occasions when tardiness isn’t an option.

“One chocolate but then you have to go straight to bed”

My last piece of advice is:

5). Don’t rely heavily on bribery.

Yes, bribery done well is an absolute art form but overusing it can devalue the impact. Utilise bribery in a way which asserts your power and control over your child. Relying too heavily on bribes will reveal a weakness to your toddler and let’s face it, toddlers are like a pack of wolves, they sniff out weakness and use it to their own seedy advantage. They’ll become expectant of a bribe and will eventually learn to play you at your own game. We are all owned by our children – bribery is our one chance to have the upper hand.


I can’t promise that following these tips will transform your journey but I’m pretty sure they’ll help conquer bribery to a tremendous degree.

Enjoy and bribe well xx


Like my blogs? You’ll also find me on Facebook at ARTventurers Durham

Warts and All

So, you may have seen me posting about ARTventurers Durham recently. You may even be just as excited as I am about our impending classes coming soon! 
With that in mind, I thought you may like to know a little about me…warts and all.


I’ll begin with the mundane, it may not be enthralling but it’s necessary…I’m Kirbs, Babe, Mama, Mammeeee, Mrs Squires, Miss or The Kirbster. To most, I’m plain old Kirby (yes, that’s my actual name). I’m Kirbs to close friends and family (it’s strange but I can usually tell when someone considers me close. The signal of switching from formalities to informalities is a sign of acceptance, endearment). ‘Babe’ isn’t me being big headed, it’s the term I’ve been deemed by my Husband. I only ever seem to get ‘Kirbs’ from him when I’m in the bad books…which is sometimes still several times a week. Mama and Mammeeee are my two favourite names. I consider myself blessed every time I’m referred to this way. Mrs Squires and Miss are what my students call me (I’m still an English Teacher until July) and well, The Kirbster was once a jovial nickname given to me by my Brother…it caught on and stuck…to my dismay. 
So now you know my name, you might want to know who I am.
I’m Mother 


My firstborn, Tristan, is now 2 years and 3 months old. He was born on a Thursday when I was 37 weeks pregnant. He weighed 7lb 6oz and entered the world completely bewildered. The 1st 6 weeks of his life were a mix of utter bliss and utter torture. He cried…excessively. He screamed…endlessly. There were times when I just didn’t know what to do, times when I felt so overwhelmed by how much my world had changed. Then, when he was only 10 weeks old (on my Husband’s Birthday may I add, I feel it necessary to explain myself) I conceived again. I became a Mother for the 2nd time in November 2014. I gave birth twice in one year! At 31 weeks pregnant, weighing 3lb 14oz, Siena Marie dramatically thrust herself into life. Her impatience, determination and zest for living are all still very much a part of her being and completely infectious. Being a Mother isn’t something I’d ever fully considered. I wasn’t maternal (in fact, quite the opposite) and although I knew I’d want kids some day, it wasn’t something I was in a rush to experience. Oh how I’ve changed. I’m Mother to the core! I could be that woman with 17 babies, I feel completely addicted to pregnancy, that newborn haze and the absolute joy and laughter a toddler can instil..but I’ve got one of each already so for now, I won’t be greedy. 


I’m Wife


I met my husband in 2007 through mutual friends. We forged our relationship through a series of My Space messages and finally started dating a few months later. It wasn’t love at first sight (in fact, I think I was probably trying to make someone else jealous to begin) but once established, our love was intense. We were that annoying couple that others didn’t want to spend time around because all we’d do was pinch each other’s noses and call each other pet names. We moved in with each other after only four months and got engaged on our 1st anniversary. Somewhere along the line, we mellowed. Now, we’re very much the typical married couple. We argue over silly little things like who put the bins out last week or who deserves a lie in on a Saturday morning but we work (we work damn hard at times and and that’s fine, life isn’t always about sunsets and rose petals).

I’m Dog Owner


For my 21st Birthday Present, my Mother bought me a Border Collie. We chose him from a farm in Northumberland, he was the only puppy not to leave his Mother’s side. Admiring his loyalty, he undoubtedly stood out from the crowd. He’s called Joey, now nine years old and still completely puppy. It was hard bringing children into his life. I’d hoped he’d accept them instinctively but it’s taken a little time. Tristan is a little too erratic for him at the moment.

I’m Teacher

I qualified as an English Teacher in 2007 and instantly fell in love with the profession. There’s something so special about instilling confidence and knowledge into the minds of children. There’s times I’ve cried through joy, times I’ve felt so frustrated by the pressure of GCSEs or Ofsted that I’ve cried for days. Teaching isn’t a job, it’s a career and it owns you. My decision to leave teaching to pursue ARTventurers was based on my current home situation. My youngest Daughter has just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy (although we’re awaiting confirmation from the MRI she had last Wednesday). She needs my strength, my encouragement, my time! Teaching isn’t flexible, it’s hard to fit around her hospital appointments. She also has impending heart surgery in the near future. ARTventurers is my opportunity to live a life doing something I’m still so passionate about – instilling passion, knowledge and creativity into the minds of children – whilst being able to work around my Daughter’s schedule. I’m also hoping it curbs my broodiness and desire to have 17 babies. I’ll thoroughly enjoy spending time with yours instead. I chose to work until July to see my classes through until the end of the year. Although I’m so extremely excited to get ARTventurers up and running, I just felt as though I couldn’t abandon my students half way through a year. Students almost become family – an adoptive family of 120 children. I’ve no doubt I’ll view you all this way too. 

I’m a Bit Fun


I spent my maternity leave practicing karaoke songs on my friend’s request. I do a mean Beyoncé, Britney and Shaggy! I see the fun in most situations and am not afraid of a little bit of mess. I spend hours prancing around shopping centres and parks pretending to be a dinosaur, forgetting most times to check who’s watching. I love to dance and am not one to shy away from a dance off. I love life and will not let two demanding toddlers or the hardships of any average day weigh me down.


I’m Human


I cry at adverts, sob my heart out to films or books. I’m obsessed with Emmerdale and get excited on a Thursday for a double dose. I get stressed when my son throws himself on the floor in public or snatches from other kids at soft play. I spend most of my time not knowing what I’m doing but carrying on doing it regardless. I can never find matching socks and my approach to dressing myself and my children is to find something in our wardrobes which doesn’t need ironing. I use biscuits and quavers as bribery (although never cheesy wotsits, they cause more hassle than they solve). My idea of winning is making sure I’ve showered. My car is littered with toys and spare clothes and I always have a towel – ideal for those ‘let’s drop everything and head to the beach’ moments. I get jealous when I see my non-mummy friends uploading photos of luxurious holidays or nights out in skimpy dresses and extravagant bouffant hair but I also get jealous of my husband at home with the babies on the nights I manage to escape. I love a selfie and have no shame in uploading a million pictures of my children each day. All I want is a good night’s sleep and to pee on my own. 

And a warm cup of tea…imagine a warm cup of tea.

Well that’s me, warts and all! Now that the formal introduction is out of the way, I’d love to see you all soon when classes are up and running as of next month 😃.

You’re Ready

  

  
Okay Dolly, here it is; I’m sorry but I’m putting and end to my ‘no rush’ policy. I warned you a while back that it wasn’t working for me any longer. Well,  I can now see that it’s no longer working for you either.

I have to admit, you’re not a baby any longer. You’re not my delicate, tiny, premature baby any more – you’re my ferocious, determined, joyful toddler! 

Somewhere within the past two months, you’ve flourished. Somewhere within the past two months, you’ve decided that you’re ready.

I wish I could take the credit. I’d love nothing more that to say ‘yes, she finally listened to my pleas’ but I can’t deny, your inner-strength definitely had something to do with it.

You see, two months ago, we were told you had cerebral palsy. One dismal afternoon, we headed to an appointment with a bone specialist. You’d been diagnosed with spastic hips and we’d been informed that you’d most likely require hip surgery. In comparison to the heart surgery you’ll undoubtedly require, this seemed nothing. I headed out that morning excited for answers, giddy about having a plan to move you forward. 

It didn’t go to plan.

The specialist examined you within minutes. His hasty approach made me feel even more relaxed – I believed it must have been simple. Eventually, I felt as though something had transitioned smoothly. I sat confidently awaiting his diagnosis, convinced he’d agree that you could be fixed so easily.

I should have known, noting is ever as easy as it seems.

‘Siena’s problems aren’t physical, they’re neurological’ he brazenly uttered. To him, this revelation wasn’t anything new. It didn’t appear daunting or unusual. To me, it instilled fear right into the core of my being. It paralysed me momentarily. I wanted to vomit.

I don’t know why my reaction was so strong; we’d known that there was undoubtedly going to be some backlash from the bleed on your brain at birth. However, for seventeen months, it had been so easy to convince ourselves that these would be minimal. 

  
Especially at the start! You’d met most milestones easily within your adjusted timescale. Doctors had been pleased with your development, we’d marvelled at your tenacity and prevailance. Other than your size, you competed with your friends. You were eager to be a part of the game.

At nine months, we registered that your physical developments were slowing. You couldn’t roll, couldn’t sit, couldn’t maintain neck muscles for a prelonged period of time. ‘She’ll do it when she’s ready’ we’d repeated – half convincing others, half convincing ourselves. However, internally I knew something wasn’t right. At your nine month check up, I insisted on physio. Luckily, your paediatrician took little persuading. He sensed it too, he recognised you needed help.

At seventeen months, physio seemed to have changed nothing. For eight months, I tried to maintain my patient stance of not rushing you. There’d been fear of hurting you, fear of pushing you too far. Nonetheless, I’d remained desperate for you to flourish.

The diagnosis of cerebral palsy had seemed so daunting to me initially. I didn’t know what it would entail, what barriers you’d have to overcome. The notion of stepping outside of our comfort zone knocked me. I had only just adjusted to all of the other challenges you’d thrown our way.

  
Naturally, your paediatrician had wanted to explore this further. Our last meeting resulted in many more medical appointments – weekly intense physio, hydrotherapy, portage, speech therapy, an eye exam, a kidney ultrasound and scan and an MRI to be precise (hopefully, the MRI will confirm the true diagnosis of your neurological ailments). To say this was overwhelming would be dressing it down.

But, it was exactly what we needed…a plan to rush you! 

I think you sensed it, I think you understood that this was your warning to step up your gain.

  
These past two months, you’ve uncoiled. Like a young bud in the springtime, you’ve opened your petals and revealed your true beauty and strength. It has been  miraculous. 

Within two weeks of your appointment, whilst celebrating your friend’s first Birthday, you chose to sit unaided. It was as if you looked at your fellow peers and finally decided, you wanted to join the party.

Almost two months on and the transition has been impeccable. Tonight, you sat upright in the bath for the whole entirety. You held your hands out and splashed your brother playfully, you sang to the tune of ‘twinkle twinkle’. 

Your speech is developing so quickly, in a way which is no longer mimicking your brother but in a way which is meaningful. You tell us when you’re hungry, when you want juice, a dummy or bed.

I can see you pushing yourself to limits you’d once found incomprehensible and I couldn’t be more ready to push you more.

You’re nineteen months old already. Nineteen months old and still sleeping in our room. Nineteen months old and I can’t seem to part with you being by my side. Although it pains me to admit that this can’t last forever, I know that I’m reaching the point of letting you blossom.  You’ve shown a desire to be more independent and I know that this is something I must encourage, not hinder.

So, be warned Dolly, I’m relinquishing my control. Now that I know you’re ready to push yourself, that ‘no rush policy’ is limited in its existence.

I no longer worry about what your future holds. Whether your developmental issues are cerabral palsy or some other condition of your premature birth, I know we can succeed together. You’ve the power to overcome any obstacle, the passion to thrive.

I’m so proud of the charismatic, charming but boisterous little girl you’re turning into.

I can see now, you’re ready.